Recovering from an addiction requires more than treating the physical effects of substance abuse. Addiction is a disease that affects the whole person including their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, as well as their physical health.

An effective treatment plan for substance abuse and addiction incorporates a variety of treatment modalities to address these various emotional and behavioral aspects. At our Vertava Health treatment centers, this includes expressive therapies such as art and music therapy.

Each person overcoming addiction responds to treatment differently and has their own unique needs. Providing an array of various addiction treatment modalities within our programs allows greater freedom for our patients to discover the support that best facilitates their own personal healing.

What Is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a supplemental form of treatment that belongs to a group of complementary and alternative medical (CAM) practices. While some people may experience some benefits of art activities during their recovery journey, it is not a proven form of treatment.

The use of art activities for substance abuse dates back to the 1950s. Capable of serving as an addition to conventional treatments like behavioral therapy and medication, art activities may offer an expressive venue for emotional and spiritual healing.

Art sessions provide a space for patients to process their thoughts, emotions, and experiences through various means of artistic expression. This may be helpful for people who struggle to talk about their experiences, or feel more comfortable expressing their feelings and thoughts through art.

The way art activities are used can vary between treatment programs. Trained art leaders may guide patients through activities, or allow patients the freedom to explore their options with various art materials.

Types of art activities may include:

  • painting
  • drawing
  • coloring
  • collaging
  • sculpting
  • playing music
  • dancing

Art activities may sometimes be followed by a discussion, where patients can choose to explain their art. Many art projects are also designed to stimulate certain emotional experiences that can be beneficial to the recovery process.

Patients are encouraged to embrace opportunities for self-exploration and awareness with these activities. While creative expression itself can offer a beneficial break from individual addiction counseling and other forms of treatment within our programming, art activities may have some added benefits for some patients.

Benefits of Having an Art Therapist for Addiction

When combined with proven treatment methods, some potential benefits of art activities for addiction may include:

  • Exploring emotions: Drug and alcohol abuse can have lasting effects on concentration, memory, and communication skills. Creating art may provide a tangible way for people to explore their emotions and share them with others in a creative yet effective way. This can be used to identify when patients are feeling intense emotions such as fear, anger, or depression.
  • Alternative outlet for communication: Many people who have struggled with addiction have a history of abuse or trauma and can have difficulty speaking about it aloud. Artistic expression provides an alternative outlet for people to process and share aspects of their experiences in a way that feels safe and less daunting.
  • Stress management: Some guided art activities focus on stress relief and can help patients learn how to manage stress in healthy ways. Stress painting is a common activity used to minimize or otherwise explore a person’s stress.
  • Increased sense of control: Expressing one’s emotions through art can give patients more agency in controlling how they manage their emotions. Drugs and alcohol are often used to numb intense emotions or flashbacks. By turning to art, patients can learn to process rather than avoid their feelings.
  • Increased insight into personal experiences: Art activities may provide a new and helpful angle through which patients can reflect on past behaviors and experiences. While conventional forms of talk therapy can also be effective for these purposes, creative exercises offer an additional opportunity for gaining insight.

Through creative exercises, our patients can experience a renewed invigoration for creation and learning more about what they are capable of in their recovery.

Art Activities and a Good Art Therapist for Substance Abuse at Vertava Health

Our treatment programs at Vertava Health utilize various treatment modalities shown to be effective for overcoming addiction as well as ancillary programs like art activities to improve the patient’s experience.

Our comprehensive approach to addiction treatment provides patients with a strong foundation of skills for lifelong recovery from their struggles. While this is not an easy process, our trained professionals are here to make sure you don’t have to face it alone.

Contact us today to learn more about our programs and to find the treatment you need.